The Day After Christmas…

It was a hard week for some people I adore, but with that week came some unexpected riches.

Cynthia lost Don. My friend Lisa lost her sister, who was also her best friend. My friend Cindy had surgery that totally altered her holidays by draining her energy and forcing her to rest in her home. I want to make things better for Cynthia, Lisa and Cindy. I want to reach out and…restore them. I can’t bring back the people they love or offer them health or healing, but I can be present and active in their lives. And I have tried to do that this week. The part that surprised me was that, in being with them, I felt restored.

At Cynthia’s place the other night, I made some new friends and developed an even greater desire to know Cynthia better than I do because I loved the feel of her place and her genuineness and hospitality in that evening.  Over dinner with Lisa, I took strength from the strength I saw in her and the love she continues to show for her sister and her sister’s family.  Oh that we should all be so true and steadfast. And this weekend, Cindy allowed me to play in her kitchen and, though I am far from a cook, that time of cooking breakfast and sharing a meal set my heart right in a way I’m not sure how to articulate. I just enjoyed myself, and I enjoyed her and was touched that she allowed me so fully into her home.

I also had a couple of chance encounters with another friend who brightened my weekend rather unexpectedly.  On Friday, I walked into one of my favorite stores and happened to see another friend named Cindy, who I’d been trying to meet up with for weeks.  We ended up spending a couple of hours together browsing, talking, and laughing and had so much fun that we tried and managed to meet up again the next day at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar where we browsed, talked and laughed some more. I could have done my shopping and wandered that fair on my own, but seeing Cindy – connecting with Cindy – made the experience much sweeter.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the time with my family.  On Christmas Eve, we attended a church service and did our gift exchange with a lighthearted energy that felt easy. And Christmas day felt much the same way. We ate and laughed and watched television and played games, all with a cheer that exceeded that of our typical weekend gatherings.

As busy as I have been, I didn’t feel ready for this holiday. I managed, with Cindy’s help, to be ready for my family gift exchange, but family Christmas aside, my life feels left undone. My Christmas gifts are only partially purchased. I have not mailed even one package to anyone. My house is a wreck. My car is still filthy. My website isn’t finished. Erin’s photo book isn’t finished. So much still needs to happen between now and the end of the year.  I have a funeral to go this week, and I’m in the office on a day that we are closed, trying to catch up on work so that I feel more on top of my work load. Looking back, I see change.  Looking forward, I see change. But somehow, I’m okay with all of that. I feel like it is all going to be okay.

The time with my friends and family, coupled with the most wonderful photos and the kindest, most loving words that arrived in the mail this season and especially in the last couple of days, most unexpectedly left me feeling restored despite everything.  I feel surrounded by friendship and love.  And for this feeling, I am terribly grateful.


I learned a new word yesterday. Palliative. It refers to healthcare that focuses on relieving pain and suffering of patients. The context was with respect to my friend Don. “There is no course of treatment other than palliative care.” 

After a jarring week of a seizure, followed by a brain tumor diagnosis and the gathering of people who love him dearly, Don died early this morning. 

The last time I saw Don, he was enjoying a night music and friends.  It was a fun night of knowing glances, naughty humor, and lots of laughter. Don is and always will be a warm, gentle and delightful spirit.

Love to you, Don. Thank you for all the kind things you said at all the right times. You will be missed.

Time for a list.

It’s the end of November.  I didn’t realize that until my girlfriend Alexis posted this on Facebook: “Tomorrow is the first day of Dec and the end of the year is near.  What’s left on your 2011 to-do list?”  What happened to hump day lightness?  What a loaded question!

That question leads me to a list. Here are the top seven things I would like to do before the end of the year.  I went with seven to honor the last month of my thirty-seventh year.

  1. I need to make my mom’s birthday gift and figure out gifts for Christmas.  (I’ve been struggling with what to buy, and I was reminded yesterday that the very best gifts are not those we buy.)
  2. I want to finish my girlfriend Erin’s Ironman photo book.  (Again, this is something that makes me happy because her half-Ironman book was a big hit, and because she smoked Ironman Canada this year.)
  3. I need to update my Quickbooks file for Ready Pen Productions.  (This is a task for which I am completely grateful because (a) it means I finally starting my writing business this year and (b) I have income and expenses to report.)
  4. I need to finish my website for Ready Pen. (My web designer has all the structure in place and came up with a fun concept, but I need to write the text.)
  5. I want to load all my music on my computer so I can get rid of my cds.  (I’m thinking about asking my niece or nephew to do this for me. They are young and smart and super tech savvy.  That’s a good Christmas vacation job, no?)
  6. I need to do a massive cleaning of my car and house, including cleaning out closets and drawers and such.  (I’m a big believer in reducing down and throwing out all the unnecessary stuff and trash so that I start the new year lighter and cleaner. Plus, my cousin’s kids complained over Thanksgiving about my car being dirty.  If little boys think it’s dirty, it must be really dirty.)
  7. I need to create my 2012 goal list.  (This is my favorite part of new years.  I loveplotting, scheming, planning and dreaming big.)

It sounds like a lot to me, especially considering that it’s quite possibly the busiest month of the year with various parties and gatherings and concerts and such. Plus, I need to keep working out and working and somehow still find time to sit and read books and watch movies. Is it too much? I might say so except that not one of these tasks feels like a chore. Each thing on the list is something I want and that matters to me.

I agree with my high school classmate Lindsey when she says, “We protect fiercely time for those things and people and events we truly value.”  I am adopting that statement for myself.  No more excuses about being busy and such.  I protect fiercely time for those things and people and events I truly value.